Delhi Commission for Women (DCW) chief Swati Maliwal has denied any wrongdoing in appointments made by her in the commission and stated the recent charges against her as ‘baseless’. She has termed the allegations levelled against her by the predecessor that led Anti Corruption Branch (ACB) of Delhi to register an FIR on 20 September as "politically motivated and an act of malafide intentions".
In an interview to Firstpost, Maliwal, an engineer-turned social activist-turned women’s panel head, has strongly condemned the ACB for allegedly naming Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal in connection with the ‘administrative and financial irregularities’ in the functioning of the DCW.
Here are excerpts from the interview:
What do you have to say on Wednesday’s incident regarding the allegation against Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal that ACB has named him in an FIR related to DCW’s functioning at the behest of Prime Minister Narendra Modi?
The fact is an FIR can’t be registered against a CM without prior approval from the top and that too in a case of corruption. It’s a highly condemnable act of ACB, because it has named a person (Kejriwal) involved in financial irregularities, who has been an anti-corruption crusader throughout. I doubt the CM has ever signed a single file of DCW. After all, we’re not a department of the government that needs CM’s signature. If at all he has done, it’s related to approval of a scheme. It’s nothing but a political conspiracy to defame us and also not to let the AAP government work smoothly in Delhi.
But what about the FIR registered against you by the ACB on alleged irregularities in recruitment in DCW?
The FIR has been registered on the complaints made by two persons — one former DCW chairperson Barkha Shukla Singh and the other, former chief secretary of Delhi, Umesh Sehgal. Singh was an MLA when she was heading this commission and now a Congress spokesperson. Moreover, her eight-year tenure as DCW chairperson is questionable.
While, her complaint is clearly politically motivated, Sehgal complained against me because we compelled police to register an FIR against him. A woman approached us alleging charges of molestation against Sehgal and said the police had refused to file an FIR. We took up the case of the victim with the police and despite registering an FIR, no arrest has been made yet.
What do you have to say on Barkha Shukla Singh’s allegations that you appointed AAP volunteers without following due process?
Allegation made against me is absolutely false. We appointed 90 people, out of whom 74 are working with us. Due process was followed while making appointments. When I took over, I found a large number of cases to deal with and our work was expanding. We had to make short-term appointments (three-month basis) for various functions in the first year. Now, we have been able to create an ecosystem.
In one year, we have handled 11,500 cases and attended 2.25 lakh calls on women helpline number 181. We appointed counsellors to assist rape victims to police stations, courts, etc. Wherever rape was reported, we were present to assist and guide the victims.
On the contrary, Barkha Singh in eight years dealt with only one case! She appointed wives of IAS and IPS officers without giving any advertisement for recruitment. It was to oblige the officers. We've all necessary documents to support our claim, which we’ll give to the ACB at the right time. Had Singh done some tangible work in her tenure, we wouldn’t have had to make these appointments in large number.
The investigating officer at ACB has reportedly said that after investigation, they have found that 91 appointments were made without following due process…
It’s completely wrong. No investigation has been done. On 19 September, a day before the FIR was registered against me, the ACB handed me a list of 27 questions and asked me to reply. As I was very busy on 20 September with the release of our annual report, which was attended by Union Minister for Women & Child Development, Maneka Gandhi and MoS (Home) Kiren Rijiju, I asked for time and the ACB gave me a week’s period to reply. Shockingly, the ACB registered an FIR on 20 September morning without waiting for my reply.
It’s so surprising that we’re the only body in Delhi in which both the central government and Delhi government have been jointly working towards women safety. It shows that they don’t want us to work. While, cases of rapes are on the rise, they don’t want us to work. The message is clear — hurdles will be created against those who want to work in Delhi.
Has DCW ever taken any action against AAP leaders like Sandeep Kumar, Amanatullah Khan against whom there are sexual allegations?
DCW is a statutory body of the Delhi government constituted to investigate and examine all matters relating to the safety and security of women under the constitution and other laws of Delhi. In the cases of Sandeep Kumar, Amanatullah Khan and others, police already took action. Our role is to intervene, when police do not take action or don’t register an FIR on victim’s complaint. I was the first to condemn former Delhi minister Sandeep Kumar when he was arrested in the sleaze CD case. It was DCW that took action against AAP MLA Manoj Kumar, when his wife approached us complaining against him on charges of domestic abuse. We’re the only women’s commission working apolitically.
What next after this FIR?
This FIR against me on charges of irregularities has hurt me the most. In my 11 years of working, I worked for nine as a volunteer, spending nights in shelters. I’ve worked with utmost honesty and in DCW, we have tried to work as much as possible, even on Saturdays and Sundays. I’ve got response from all political parties. I’ll cooperate in the investigation and provide all proofs as and when required. Now, it’s for the public to decide my work. If charge of corruption — even of one rupee — is proved against me, I’ll give up my life.
अगर कोई मेरी पूरी जिंदगी में 1 रुपए का भ्रष्टाचार भी सिद्ध करदे तो मैं अपनीं जिंदगी छोड़ दूंगी।
— Swati Maliwal (@SwatiJaiHind) September 20, 2016
(A note: Late on Wednesday, the ACB chief MK Meena said that Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal’s name did not figure in the FIR regarding alleged irregularities in the DCW.)